Learning At Work Week 2024: Thera’s Communications team learns Makaton!

Posted 15/05/2024

For this year's Learning At Work Week, Thera's Communications team share their experience attending a signing workshop.

This week, 13 to 19 May, is Learning at Work Week, an annual event to highlight the benefits of continual learning and development. It is also Mental Health Awareness week, and learning new skills can have many mental health benefits such as improving self-confidence and making social connections.

After attending an event back in September 2023, members of the Communications team realised they had a gap in their knowledge when interacting with people we support who do not use speech as their main method of communication. It is important that everyone has the opportunity to communicate the way they want to, so they can share their experiences and stories with us. It also makes sure everyone who wants to be a part of an activity or project can get involved!

So, to gain a better understanding, the Communications team reached out to the Learning and Development team. They organised a Signing workshop led by Alex, one of Thera’s Learning and Development specialists.

The workshop included talking about Makaton, which is a language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to help people with a learning disability communicate. According to the Makaton Charity, over 100,000 children and adults use Makaton as either their main method of communication or to support their speech. So, being able to use Makaton means we can communicate with people in the way they prefer.

Starting this training has made me feel as if we’re a step closer to communicating with those who may struggle with speaking or are non-verbal. It brings us closer to really understanding them.

The Signing session lasted three hours in total. Alex walked the team through the basic principles of Makaton and how to use it effectively. The team also started learning signs for everyday words such as house, eating and drinking.

I found the session to be really informative but also very fun! It felt great to be learning a new skill that will also help us feel more confident communicating with more people we support with a learning disability.

The Communications team completed a Level 1 Signing workshop, and there are four levels to learning Makaton in total. After enjoying the first session so much, the team are definitely eager to learn more in the future!

I thought it was a great way to learn more about how we can communicate to the people we support or anyone. Especially if the person is more confident and comfortable using Makaton. It was a great session to learn and something I’m happy to learn more in the future.

Visit the Makaton Charity to find out more about Makaton and access free resources